NCAA Tournament Bracketology: Handicapping the Midwest
For no particular reason let’s consider the Midwest.
Two teams from the Big 12: Kansas and Kansas State.
Two from the Big East: Villanova and Georgetown.
Clemson is the lone representative from the ACC, Wisconsin from the Big Ten, and Vanderbilt from the SEC.
Portland State represents the Big Sky, UNLV the Mountain West, Kent State hails from the Mid-American, and Siena earned the MAAC bid.
USC will represent the Pac-10, Cal State Fullerton won the Big West, Gonzaga is an at-large from the West Coast, Davidson won the Southern, while the Retrievers of UMBC won the America East.
Seeing as how the talking heads on ESPN all picked No. 1 seeds to advance we can now look at a few other subtleties.
Someday a No. 1 seed is gonna win. Probably won’t happen here. But after the Jayhawks dispatch Portland State, they draw the UNLV-Kent State. winner.
Hmmmm….could be interesting.
The Golden Flashes go nine deep. They start two seniors, and four juniors log significant time. Kent State is not your average mid-major team. The G-Flashes possess above-average athleticism and could hang with Kansas long enough to make it worthwhile.
Many of these guys played on the ’06 team that lost in the opening round to Pitt. They will not be starry-eyed this time around.
For hoops purists, the Gonzag-Davidson matchup will be a treat. Stephen Curry and Boris Meno provide a formidable inside/outside tandem for Bob McKillop’s Davidson Wildcats, but Gonzaga has too many ball-handlers and too much patience.
Nine guys average at least 10 minutes of playing time per game for Mark Few. David Pendergraft provides senior leadership. Jeremy Pargo is a great point guard, and Josh Heytvelt makes the Bulldogs difficult to stop.
For all their efforts, the winner of that 7-10 matchup probably gets Georgetown. The Hoyas lead the nation in field goal percentage defense at 36 percent, and they limit opponents to 57 points per game.
Oddly enough UMBC leads the nation in only giving up nine turnovers a game. Too bad the Retrievers will more than likely surpass their season average in the first half.
A Georgetown-Gonzaga second round matchup is intriguing. Pitt exposed the Hoyas' inability to stop the dribble. As a result, Roy Hibbert got into foul trouble, along with Jeremiah Rivers and DaJuan Summers.
Gonzaga has the guys that can cause problems for the Hoyas.
Another interesting matchup: Clemson and Villanova. Oliver Purnell has done a great job motivating his troops against the best of the ACC. Can he get his Tigers to play with the same intensity against Villanova?
It appears the Wildcats were the last team to make the tournament. They have nothing to lose.
The winner of this game will probably get Vanderbilt. Outside of Memorial Gymnasium, the Commodores can tend to be a little less than intimidating. Kevin Stallings’ guys should have enough to get by Siena, but Round Two could end the Commodores’ season.
Then there's clash of the two diaper dandies: Michael Beasley will lead K-State against OJ Mayo and the Trojans of USC. Should be an entertaining matchup.
Beasley rolled through the Big 12. But it won’t matter much, because Bo Ryan’s Wisconsin Badgers will suffocate either of these teams in the second round.
The Badgers lead the country in limiting teams to 54 points a game. Remember the look on Beasley’s face after Kansas shut him down? We can expect to see that face again this weekend.
Overall, the obvious pick is No. 1 Kansas. On one hand, the Jayhawks could benefit from the other teams in the bracket knocking each other off. On the other, after the first round, Kansas could have the following road: Kent State, Clemson, and Georgetown.
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